The Olympic Games are nearly here. If you want to avoid the swirling mass of commercialism in London but still have a love for the Olympics, there’s an alternative: Greece.
The Greek town of Olympia gave its name to today’s Olympic Games. And you can still visit and get a taste of the Olympics in their original form – before the games morphed into the pursuit of sponsorship dollars and media overkill. Here are three sites to get your holidays in Greece started.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia
It’s not one of the biggest museums in Greece, but visitors will tell you it’s a must-see. Bronze and terra cotta sculptures are some of the highlights. You can also check out the Sanctuary of Zeus … as the ancient Greek father of man and gods alike, he’s kind of a big deal: Ancient Greeks organized the Olympic Games to honor him. Tickets top out at 9 Euros for the most extensive package – but you can take advantage of free admission days throughout the year.
Ancient Olympia Archaeological Site
Walk in the footsteps of the Olympic Games’ first competitors. Don’t worry, though: You can stay clothed, unlike the first athletes who competed in nothing but a good coat of olive oil. You’ll be able to see where the athletes trained for at least one month, and can even run at the Stadium of Olympia where they once laid it one the line for the pride of their city-states. There’s also the Hippodrome and the Palaestra (a wrestling school).
Olympia Land Winery
There’s only so many ruins and museums I can handle in any stretch of time. After I hit that number, it’s time for a change of pace. Visitors to the Olympia area will find that at the Olympia Land Winery. Being more of a craft beer guy than a wine lover, I’ll have to trust its reputation. Word is that its whites and reds – both on the dry side of the spectrum – are high-quality stuff. You can get into an organized tasting for 10 Euros. According to the winery’s website, it’s free for kids under 12. I have to assume kids only get to dig into the feta, salami, olives and bread that accompany the wine tasting. But hey, you never know.
This post is sponsored by Thomas Cook, the world’s best-known name in travel. Today, savvy travelers book cheap holidays with Thomas Cook. More than 19,000 employees, a fleet of 44 aircraft and more than 800 street stores make Thomas Cook the second-largest leisure travel group in the UK.